Posted: 19.02.21 at 15:29 by Tom Avery
An administrator of a Congleton social media group which has over 21,000 members has praised the "overwhelming" kindness the community continues to showcase when people need help.
Deborah Jupp, administrator of Congleton Chat's Back, recently received an award from the High Sheriff of Cheshire, Nicolas Hopkinson MBE, in recognition of her 'great and valuable services to the community'.
Accompanying the award, a message from Mr Hopkinson said: "Dear Deborah, volunteers are very special people and we just wouldn't be same without them.
"Thank you for all that you do. Congratulations on being nominated and winning this award. Peace and love, Sheriff Hoppy."
Alison Cann, who has been volunteering alongside Deborah, Shaun Radcliffe and other volunteers at the Congleton Food Hub to help the community during the Covid-19 pandemic, nominated Mrs Jupp for the award.
But the nominations did not stop there, Deborah's name was also put forward by a Congleton resident who was "blown away" by her kindness during the festive period.
The resident who had no heating at his house contacted Deborah asking for help.
Deborah asked members of chat's back if they could help the gentleman and several residents donated money through a PayPal account.
In the midst of people kindly donating to help the gentleman, he managed to get his heating fixed for free.
Deborah then informed residents who had donated that they could have their money back, but she was given permission to either keep the money for a future cause or to spend it where she saw fit.
In the lead up to Christmas, Mrs Jupp was contacted by a local family who were struggling financially. Mrs Jupp showcased her kind-hearted nature and festive spirit by treating the family to some Christmas presents, using the money initially earmarked to help fix the gentleman's heating.
After being informed about how Deborah used the money, the gentleman who had heating issues no more, nominated her for the high sheriff award because he was so "grateful" to see the money to put towards such a beautiful act of kindness.
Deborah told Nub News that it was only last week that the Congleton community rallied together to come to the aid of a homeless man, who was sat outside Morrisons with his dog, with no shelter or bedding in the increasingly freezing and wet conditions.
Within the space of an hour after putting a rallying cry on chat's back, Shaun Radcliffe was able to collect and deliver some food, a tent, bedding and dog food.
The homeless man was "blown away" and broke down in tears when Mr Radcliffe dropped off the items, because he was so "overwhelmed" by the town's kindness and willingness to help him and his dog.
Using Mr Radcliffe's mobile phone, the homeless man was able to thank Mrs Jupp for the role she played, but Deborah highlighted it was the power of the Congleton community that came to his assistance.
Deborah said: "After putting the post on chat's back, within the space of an hour, Shaun was collecting all of these items and we did not stop receiving messages all night.
"We don't even know most of the people who get in contact and respond to the posts, but it is so lovely to know that the town trusts us."
So where did it all begin?
It was about three years ago when Deborah's friend Nicky created the Facebook group Congleton Chat after she was given a "dressing down" for asking for a plumber recommendation in a for sale Facebook group.
However, the 'Congleton Chat' group was mistakenly set up as a secret group, which meant a new group was created.
Deborah was helping Nicky with the admin on the newly established Congleton Chat's Back group, but when Nicky moved to Macclesfield three years ago, she handed the reigns over to Deborah, which at that time the group had a membership of around 8,000 members.
Within a couple of months of running the group, Deborah noticed that the group was getting inundated with posts from businesses outside the area, but the most important ethos behind the group was to "showcase the town".
But now the group has amassed over 21,000 members and with new residents continuing to move to Congleton, there is no denying the group will continue to hit new heights.
Deborah added: "Sometimes you do not even realise how much it is [the group' growing."
Alongside Deborah, Michelle Goodwin, Carole Whitehurst, Beckie Birdno and Gaynor Munro are the group's admins and moderators.
Even when Deborah was helping her friend Nicky, the group always helped raise money for worthy causes and local projects.
But it was a couple of years ago when Deborah was contacted by a local woman that the group then began to start helping residents and families in any way they possibly could.
A teenage girl, who had nowhere else to go but her mum's sisters house, arrived with nothing but her school uniform after being removed from her mum's house after social services had intervened.
The teenager did not even have a bed to sleep on, but after putting a post for help on chat's back, Deborah was in "disbelief" at the number of people who wanted to help.
Alongside make up and clothes being donated by the community, Royal Street Beds provided the teenager with a bed.
Ever since that trigger moment, Congleton chat's back has become so much more than a Facebook group.
Mrs Jupp added: "The people that have been helped in the past, stay in touch and remain eternally grateful. It is such a nice and rewarding feeling knowing that you have helped get someone or a family through a very difficult situation."
Any leftover donations that the group receives, are left in a "community pot", which can be used on any future calls for help.
Deborah concluded: "I still get overwhelmed with helping people. I think because I get to meet the people and they are so grateful; it becomes very emotional.
"It's amazing to know that the community is willing to step up and help. I think after the year we have had, there is no better feeling then knowing you have helped somebody else get through a tough time.
"Little gestures go a long way and there is a hell of a lot of kind people in this town."